FaceTime on iPods could change the way we chat

FaceTime on iPod
We could soon see FaceTime in loads of different devices

We've been promised video calls for years, but they've never really taken off - but thanks to last night's Apple announcements, we might need to smarten ourselves up whenever the phone rings.

Apple changed music with the iPod - and it looks like it's going to use the same bit of kit to change the way we talk, too.

Adding the FaceTime video calling system to the iPod touch means that FaceTime may be heading for prime time.

Until yesterday FaceTime was brilliant and largely pointless: it was only available for the iPhone 4, so if all your friends weren't early-adopting free-spending latte-sipping hipsters who hold their phones really, really carefully then FaceTime suffered from the Only Fax Machine In The World problem: who do you call when no-one has the kit?

FaceTime on the iPod touch changes that. Steve Jobs reckons Apple is activating 230,000 iOS devices a day, and a good proportion of those devices are iPod touches - which means that over the Christmas period hundreds of thousands of people will end up with FaceTime-enabled iPods in their stockings.

The odds are that while you might not know many iPhone 4 owners, you'll know plenty of iPod touch owners - and increasingly, you'll be able to talk to them via FaceTime.

FaceTime everywhere

The next step for Apple is obvious: FaceTime in everything else.

There's no technical reason it can't be in OS X - FaceTime's really just iChat AV in different trousers - and the widely expected cameras in next year's second generation iPad mean it should come to Apple's tablet, too, ushering in a whole new world of chinny videos shot from unflattering angles.

While Apple is at it it could easily add it to the Apple TV: an add-on camera wouldn't be that expensive, even with Apple's massive profit margins, and FaceTime on your HDTV would deliver some of the wow factor Apple's telly box desperately needs.

Don't forget that FaceTime is supposed to be an open standard, too. In the long term, that means it should appear on all kinds of devices, not just ones with the Apple logo.

The big question is whether people want to see one another on the phone. I think the older generation hate the idea. I certainly do, but that's because I have what's best described as a face for radio and some really ugly friends.

Phone networks won't like it, either, because if it takes off it'll mean massive data demands over networks that often struggle to cope with Twitter.

But I reckon The Kids - that is, the constantly videoing, texting, chatting, oversharing Kids who can't take a breath without videoing it and uploading it to YouTube - will love it.

Apple isn't the first firm to try to take video calling into the mainstream - but it wasn't the first firm to make an MP3 player, either. That worked out OK, didn't it?

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.